In September of 2023, Sherryl Tandoc, a 43-year-old pharmacy technician at MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center, began to experience alarming symptoms – chest pain, headache, shortness of breath and numbness in her arms. Worried and concerned, she sought immediate medical attention.

Upon arrival at the emergency room, the care team monitored her and found her blood pressure was quite high. After a comprehensive evaluation, including an echocardiogram and EKG, results showed Sherryl was born with bicuspid aortic valve. She was diagnosed with a heart murmur and other heart related issues. Dr. Khiet C.Hoang, medical director, emergency cardiac services at MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Long Beach Medical Center, determined surgery was necessary to address her rare condition.

Sherryl was referred to the skilled hands of Marc Sakwa, M.D., chief of cardiovascular surgery, MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute; and medical director, adult cardiovascular surgery, MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Long Beach Medical Center. Dr. Sakwa is one of a few cardiothoracic surgeons in the region to perform complex heart surgery with a minimally invasive approach, situations where many surgeons traditionally perform an open-heart procedure where they crack the breastbone in half. At MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Long Beach Medical Center almost all of their treatments are performed in the most minimally invasive approach possible.

After a successful surgery performed with just a small incision, Sherryl experienced a quicker healing time and her journey toward a full recovery truly began. Sherryl hoped for a quicker recovery and the ability to continue with an active lifestyle soon after surgery, which was exactly what was possible thanks to the expertise of Dr. Sakwa.

As she transitioned home, Sherryl continued to receive dedicated care. Nurses and physical therapists visited her, aiding in her recovery process. By January 2024, she began therapy and rehabilitation at Long Beach Medical Center’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Center, furthering her progress toward regaining her strength and vitality, which played a pivotal role in her recovery.

The initial month after surgery was demanding, but the support she received from the nurses and doctors at Long Beach Medical Center made a significant difference.

“Heart disease can affect young people too, so I hope my story can inspire others to get the heart care they need,” says Tandoc. “I am so grateful to Dr. Sakwa and Dr. Hoang for their timely and expert care, because now I know the importance of not waiting when it comes to heart health, and the significance of taking care of yourself through healthy eating and exercise.”

Sherryl’s commitment to advocating for heart health is paramount to her, so she participates in community education events, such as the MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach Torch Run in her spare time. As Sherryl continues to thrive and embrace each moment, she carries with her the belief that a healthy heart paves the way for a healthy life.

With unwavering support from her mother and wife during her recovery, Sherryl is now back to work as a full-time pharmacy technician and dedicated to maintaining her health and adhering to a nutritious diet and regular gym visits.